Mother Panic/Batman Special #1 – Jody Houser, Magdalene Visaggio, Writers; Ty Templeton, Sonny Liew, Artists; Kieren Smith, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Terrific Introduction to Mother Panic’s World
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Mother Panic/Batman Special #1, the first team-up issue tying into the Milk Wars event, benefits from a much clearer narrative than last week’s installment. Although it’s a distinctly weird Gotham adventure, it inherently is a Gotham story and Violet Page and Bruce Wayne make for natural partners in anti-crime. It all starts when Violet, having one of her odd teas with her mother, has a series of nasty flashbacks to Gather House, only to be told that it’s returned. Armoring up, she heads back to burn the place to the ground for the second time, only to find a very different place. Rather than the gothic horror show of her time, it’s a bright, happy place where an army of orphans in superhero costumes have a never-ending party. And presiding over it all is a strange nun who seems to be made of glass and a kind priest who is actually none other than Batman.
This is inherently a story about pain and trauma, and how people are able to move on from it. The Milk is a supernatural force created by the Milkman the last issue with disturbing consequences. Here serves as a mind-wiping drug that turns traumatized children into cheerful crusaders for Justice, including Violet’s young friend Rosie. Ty Templeton is well-known for his old-school superhero comics, including Batman ’66, and that’s very much the vibe this story is going for – a sort of twisted take on Kirby hiding a much darker core. While I’m not sure about “Milk Wars” as a whole, there is a lot to like about this story. This is probably the most insight we’ve gotten into what makes Violet tick, her new sidekick is an amusing twist, and the issue has a really strong take on Bruce that gets to the core of a lot of his issues. This is yet more evidence that Jody Houser is one of the best new writers in DC’s stable and they should give her a solo mainline book soon.
Corrina: If you read these reviews, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been somewhat hard on the Mother Panic series, as Violet seemed difficult to read and often events seemed confused rather than mysterious.
But if Mother Panic/Batman Special #1 had been the first issue of the Mother Panic series, I’d have been on board in a heartbeat. This is a terrific issue not only because it’s a great, creepy Gotham story, but because it also provides a clear idea of who Violet is, why she fights, what her mission is, and even suggests possible explanations for her mother’s odd behavior. It also adds what looks to be an excellent new supporting character in Fennic Fox. That it’s all wrapped up in a team-up with Batman in which he never overwhelms the story is icing on the cake.
I’m not sure I’m on board for the entire “Milk Wars,” as the first installment left me more baffled than anything else, but I’m on board for when Mother Panic resumes and I hope this team-up issue brings new readers to the title.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.